Kuznetsov tested positive for cocaine at the 2019 IIHF World Championship on May 26. He will not appeal the suspension.
Kuznetsov, 27, is under contract through the Capitals until 2024-25 and competes internationally for Russia, which won the bronze medal in May.
In May, Kuznetsov appeared in a now-deleted video that surfaced on social media in which he was sitting in a hotel room near lines of a white, powdery substance. Kuznetsov denied ever taking drugs. The NHL launched an investigation into the incident that it swiftly closed after just five days.
“While I have never taken illegal drugs in my life and career, I would like to publicly apologize to the Capitals, my teammates, our fans and everyone else, for putting myself in a bad situation,” Kuznetsov said in a statement on May 31 after the NHL dropped the matter. “This was a hard lesson for me to learn.”
The International Ice Hockey Federation had already suspended Kuznetsov from international play for four years — until June 12, 2023.
Kuznetsov led all NHL players with 32 points (12 goals, 20 assists) in the 2018 playoffs, which culminated with the Capitals winning the franchise’s first Stanley Cup. He had 21 goals and 51 assists last season for the Capitals, who were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Carolina Hurricanes.
The NHL tests its players for drugs of abuse such as cocaine and marijuana. However, according to the NHL and NHLPA’s joint substance abuse and behavioral health program, players are not suspended for positive tests. Rather, if the program administrators flag “abnormally high levels” of any substance, the veil of anonymity is lifted and doctors can recommend treatment. The player is not required to enter the program if he doesn’t want to.
ESPN’s Emily Kaplan contributed to this report.